Author Archive: Revraney

How Can Good People do Bad Things

We often struggle with the fact that people who seem to be able to produce so much good in their lives can also produce such bad. It makes us question all that we view as right about the world. It can even make us question God. After all, if God is the all-powerful creator , can’t He either a) make us in such a way that we cannot do such bad or b) keep us from doing it? Now I will address the second of those more thoroughly in another article. Suffice it to say for now that God can indeed ‘keep us’ from doing such bad but only as we allow Him.

The one who is able to do much good has equal ability to do much bad. It is precisely the ability to do such good that enables them to also do the bad. The one who is creative in his doing of good can use that same creativity toward the doing of good. It requires submission to the greater will of God to channel this ability toward good.

Wrong = The Absence of Right

There are several terms we use as descriptors as if they are an absolute condition or state of being. Some of them are misleading insomuch that they seem to be on equal footing with their supposed counterpart.

Take for example the term dark, when used in reference to a room or the night around us. Dark is not a true measurement. There are no units of dark. There are only units of light. We measure light and use the term dark to describe the absence of light. Dark is solely a term of relevance, describing a condition where someone feels there is sufficient absence of light. Cold is another term like this. We measure units of heat and we say something is cold when it reaches some level of an absence of heat.

To refer to something as wrong is similar. When we refer to something as wrong we are describing it as being absent of or deviating from the condition of being right. Right is the standard. When we say something is wrong, we mean it does not or is not at the time, living up to the standard of being right. Whether we want to accept it or not we all have within our natures some level of understanding of an absolute standard of right. See my previous articles on God and intelligent people along with the article discussing other gods for more background. When we talk of something being wrong, or unfair, we are measuring it against this standard that originates with God.

Wrong is not an alternative means of doing something. It is the choice to deviate from the right way or the standard.

Believing Something Based on Authority

Religion, and specifically Christianity, is routinely attacked or questioned on the basis that its followers believe something written over 2000 years ago. We, the followers, believe something because someone else said it. We believe based on the authority of the people who said it, rather than having seen it ourselves.

Why is this a basis for such questioning and doubt? Is this not common among all people? How much of what anyone believes to be true or factual is not based on what someone else has said, upon their authority? Those who question Christianity have no trouble believing and accepting as fact that a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln existed or that Lincoln indeed delivered the Gettysburg Address. They believe this based on what they have read or heard, for they certainly did not see Washington or Lincoln with their own eyes. Nor were they present to hear Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address.

This acceptance of authority is not limited to historical figures or items. I have never been to London but I completely accept its existence. I even have opinions as to what it is like – all based on what I have read or heard. Some will say, “yes, but you have seen pictures or video of London on TV.” I’ve also watched “westerns” with Clint Eastwood depicting life in the Old West of America, that were filmed in Italy. These movies were quite convincing that the action was taking place in the American west.

Those who question will also say, “I have no reason to not believe in Washington or Lincoln, or to believe there is a London.” Well, what reason do you have to not believe in Christ and what He did and said, other than the fact you don’t want to?

We Use Faith Everyday

The world is full of modern day Thomases.  You remember Thomas; he’s the one who has gone down in history as ‘Doubting Thomas’.  How would you like to have that tag?  Its somewhat of a bad rap.  How many have never doubted God?

In the story where Thomas got his moniker, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.”  John 20:29b  He is challenging Thomas, as well as the rest of us to believe beyond what we can see.

Whether we realize it or not we exercise “faith” everyday in all manner of things:  things spiritual as well as things routine.  Lets look at some examples.  When you walk into a dark room the first thing you do is locate the light switch and flip it on.  Did you make sure the wires were connected properly?  Did you make sure electricity was flowing through the wires from the utility company?  No you just flipped the switch.  You had confidence, you had faith in the technology we call electricity.  Do you fully understand how electricity works?  Could you wire a house?  When you enter a room for a meeting, you select a chair and you sit down.  How many of us look under the chair and examine the construction of the chair to make sure it will hold us?  No, you just sit down.  You have confidence, you have faith in the people who built the chair.    You sit in the driver’s seat of your car and you turn the key or push the ignition button fully believing the car is going to start.  You have confidence, you have faith in the manufacture of the car.

We exercise ths kind of faith everyday yet we struggle to believe God, the creator and sustainer of all that we see, know and more.  Sometimes we exhibit more faith in the creators of our everyday appliances and items than we do in God.

Mercy Rather than Merit

I have recently had a few people half-sarcastically ask me if certain ‘sacrifices’ would get them into heaven.  They had to put up with difficult people and/or difficult situations.  Their comments were made out of frustration and part in jest, but they do reflect a common mindset.   “What must I do to obtain eternal life?”, with the emphasis on “do”.

Is there some minimum level of sacrifice, giving, or good deeds that will meet the criteria for entrance into heaven?  Obviously to get a reward such as heaven one must do sufficient good things to earn it.

Heaven cannot be obtained by merit, but by mercy.  Not in acts of mercy that we might perform to our fellow man.  That would be another form of giving or doing good deeds.  No, our acts of mercy cannot earn heaven for us.  Nothing can earn eternal life for us.

We all have failed to live up to God’s perfect moral law – even the best of humanity.  There must be an atonement for our failure.  God has acted in mercy toward us through the atonement of the suffering and sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.